Friday 24 November 2017

Delpy's fine family farce

Paul Whitington

2 days in new york

(15A, limited release, 96 minutes

Director: Julie Delpy Stars: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Kate Burton, Daniel Bruhl

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Most screen goddesses have the good manners to fade respectfully into the background as they start to grow older and everyone begins blaming them for not being as beautiful any more. But Julie Delpy has other plans if that's all right with everyone else.

Before she became the luminous muse of Krzysztof Kieslowski and others, Delpy studied film-making in New York, and has been knocking out short films and scripts intermittently ever since.

She co-wrote Before Sunset with Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke, and surprised everyone by releasing a remarkably fresh and accomplished romantic comedy called 2 Days in Paris back in 2007.

This film is a sort of sequel to that one, but not in any tediously conventional sense.

In 2 Days in Paris, Delpy's character Marion was in the midst of a rocky relationship with New York photographer Jack, whose prissiness and culinary squeamishness earned the vocal contempt of her family when he accompanied her on a trip home to Paris.

In 2 Days in New York, Marion has decamped to Manhattan but Jack has bitten the dust, and she now shares her life with a radio personality and DJ called Mingus (Chris Rock).

They both have young children from other relationships, but their quietly ordered urban life is shattered when Marion's extended family turn up for a visit.

Things get off to a rocky start when Marion's father (Albert Delpy, Julie's real dad), sister (Alexia Landeau) and former boyfriend (Alexandre Nahon) are detained by customs officials in JFK for attempting to import vast amounts of saucisson and overripe brie, but that's just the start of a catalogue of Gallic excesses that drive Mingus to the brink of madness.

As in her last film, Delpy dwells to great effect on the mutual incomprehension of Americans and the French, and the linguistic barrier leads to all sorts of low farce and bewilderment.

A lot of European directors would be content to safely sneer at the Yanks, but Delpy does not spare her own nation either, and Albert Delpy is great fun as Marion's hard-living father.

Rock usually tells the jokes rather than being the straight man, but he's very good here as a chap who becomes profoundly grateful for the fact that, under normal circumstances, there's 3,000 miles of ocean between Marion and her family.

Delpy's script makes deliberate references to Woody Allen, and the comparison is not unreasonable, though Delpy's style is less staid and more deliberately anarchic than Allen's.

What philosophy there is is laid on lightly, rather than with a trowel, and 2 Days in New York is clever, lively, knowingly crass and nicely life-affirming.

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